Anton Diaz


Elephant Grounds Manila (A Review)

Elephant Grounds Manila is the Hongkong third-wave coffee franchise concept by The Standard Group (of Yabu and Ippudo fame) with the dynamic chef duo of Nicco Santos (executive chef) and Quenee Villar (formerly of Hey Handsome).

In Manila, it’s known more as an all-day brunch One Bonifacio restaurant, noted for its food more than its coffee. As the opening hype and queuing lines die down, here’s what we think of Elephant Grounds in Manila.


Independent micro-roaster and café concept from Hong Kong
Lower Ground Floor, One Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Operating Hours:
Monday to Thursday 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday to Saturday 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Mobile: +63 999 887-1417
Facebook: Elephant Grounds Manila
Instagram: @elephantgroundsph

First Things First

Elephant Grounds Manila is located on the ground floor of the prestigious One Bonifacio beside HK-based Chino.

Elephant Grounds Menu: Food | Drinks

Known for their third-wave coffee and ice cream, they also serve brunch food—waffle, rice bowls and toasts.

It’s a hip place to hang out when meeting up with friends for an inspiring creative session or just casual chica.



Bacon-Steak and Eggs Waffle

Bacon-Steak and Eggs Waffle (₱420). House smoke bacon-steak, sunny-side-up eggs, sauteed mushrooms, housemade Belgian waffles, whipped honey butter, maple syrup.

You’ll love the bacon served as a slab of steak goodness with egg and a choice of waffle, sourdough or rice donburi bowl style.

Duck and Waffle

Duck and Waffle (₱595). Roasted duck confit, housemade Belgian waffles, duck jus, maple syrup, sunny-side-up egg.

The best item was the duck leg cooked in its fat served with its jus which evoked memories of D&W in London (minus the view).


Coffee ranges from ₱120 – ₱185. It was a lot better than your usual chain coffee and served the way you like it.

Salted Caramel Latte

Salted Caramel Latte (₱185) made with handcrafted sauces and syrups.

Salted Caramel for something happy after the meal or to get you in the mood for conversation.

Sunset Iced Tea

Sunset Iced Tea (₱120)

A Sunset Iced Tea to cheer you up and to celebrate the wins of the day.

Masala Chai Latte

Masala Chai Latte (₱150) + Iced (₱10)

A drink for those times you need creative inspiration or anytime you want something to spice your morning.



They make their own bread, cakes and pastries to make sure every carb counts (and don’t go to waste).


Egg Salad Toast

Egg Salad Toast (₱220). Housemade egg salad and furikake, spring onions, pickled cucumber, farmer’s green.

I love my toasts with simple but overflowing toppings like this egg salad toast.

EG Angus Sourdough Burger

EG Angus Sourdough Burger (₱495). Angus beef, yellow cheddar, tomato, caramelized onions, sourdough, served with skinny fries.

Angus beef burger on sourdough—resembles a panini more and is good for two.



Tapa Donburi

Tapa Donburi (₱430). Marinated beef yakiniku, roasted eggplant salad topped with dried anchovies, sunny side-up egg, garlic Japanese rice.

Their best seller is Tapsilog in a bowl with bacon-like marinated tapa and eggs on top of Japanese rice. Yum!

Prawn Paste Chicken

Prawn Paste Chicken (₱385). Crispy chicken thigh, papaya salad, Thai lemongrass paste, steamed Japanese rice (mildly spicy).

For those times you like something mildly spiced with tangy lemongrass and prawn saltiness in your bowl of chicken & rice.

Duck Krapow

Duck Krapow (₱460). Stir-fried duck, crispy fried eggs, papaya salad, steamed Japanese rice.

This is the bowl to satisfy your Hey Handsome craving, with stir-fried duck and flossy egg mess. Nakaka-miss.



Of course, you have to end your visit with their own hand-crafted ice cream and their signature flavors.

Homemade Ice Cream

Toasted Rice (₱150), Earl Grey (₱150) Homemade Ice Cream

You have to try the signature Philippine flavor, tutong rice for something savory, or their Earl Grey to clean your palate.

Acai Mixed Berry

Acai Mixed Berry (₱150)

This if you prefer a fruity healthy kind of ice cream that is not too sweet to make every calorie count.

High Societea

High Societea (₱165). Chocolate chip cookie, earl grey ice cream, Biscoff cookies.

If you want to indulge, try the ice cream sandwich of earl grey tea with Biscoff and chocolate chip. Once you bite you can’t stop.

Red Velvet Oreo Smash

Red Velvet Oreo Smash (₱165). Red velvet cookies, cookies n cream ice cream, crushed Oreos.

It’s like a red velvet cupcake a la mode with cookies n cream and Oreos flavor.


Final Thoughts

Overall, you’ll love meeting up at Elephant Grounds because you can feel the creative energy from the people, the service and the food. Excellence attracts excellence; I do hope they maintain this culture and quality of the food and drinks.

It’s like a Chef Nicco restaurant with a third wave cafe hip vibe. Don’t miss the Duck & Waffle, Sourdough Toasts, Duck Krapow and Toasted Rice Ice Cream. Budget about ₱500/head.

Congratulations to Chef Nicco Santos and Quenee Villar for a job well done with the food and execution of the cafe concept at Elephant Grounds!

Independent micro-roaster and café concept from Hong Kong
Lower Ground Floor, One Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Operating Hours:
Monday to Thursday 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday to Saturday 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Mobile: +63 999 887-1417
Facebook: Elephant Grounds Manila
Instagram: @elephantgroundsph


Live an Awesome Life,
Founder, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We paid for our meal.  I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

P.S. Love the attention to detail—elephant designs on the bowl and branding on the stools.



HAPAG MNL Private Dining: Is it Better Than Toyo? (A Review)

Spoilers ahead! Best to try Hapag for the first time without reading this review.

HAPAG MNL is a private dining venture turned into a modern Filipino restaurant by Chef-owners Thirdy Dolatre (CCA), Kevin Villarica (ISCAHM) and Kevin Navoa (Malaysia-trained) in a Quezon City neighborhood.  The name of the restaurant is inspired by the dining table where the family gathers to bond and eat.

Often compared to Toyo and said to be the younger and bolder version, Hapag elevates Filipino cuisine with cleaner execution and exciting presentation without losing its bold flavor taste profile. The comparison can’t be avoided because of their similarities: both are Chef-driven modern Filipino concepts characterized by an open kitchen, tasteful Filipino furniture and location that’s hidden in an alley.

Is it better than Toyo? Is it the next best thing in modern Filipino cuisine in Manila? Or is it all just hype?

I tried it with Rache and Chef Tatung, and here’s what we think…


HAPAG Private Dining
201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Tuesdays to Sundays: 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm seatings
Mobile: +63 947 560 1853
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @hapag.mnl
Facebook: Hapag MNL


Hapag is in a quaint hidden location off Katipunan and open only for dinner service.

Hapag Menu: Eight Course Tasting Menu | A la Carte Menu

The 24-seater restaurant features an open kitchen, a chef’s table counter and two seatings, 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm.

Signature Cocktails

Mapapa-mores Ka (₱280). Mulberry, gin, lemon, basil | Hele ni Nanay (₱280). Cucumber, aloe vera, gin, elderflower | Dalagang Pinay (₱280). Dalandan liquer, tequila, lemon, agave.

Beverage MenuSignature Cocktails, Wine | Coffee, Tea

It has a decent Filipino-themed cocktail selection by Larry Guevara featuring spirits from Destileria Limtuaco.

₱2,500 Vat inclusive + ₱800 for Beverage Pairing

As first-timers, we tried the eight-course tasting menu, but you have the option to order ala-carte subsequently.

Read more


Red Lobster PH: The Best of #Lobsterworthy Celebrations in Manila!

Red Lobster, America’s #1 seafood restaurant, is just the place for all-day lobster celebrations for those #lobsterworthy moments. Sometimes a fresh live lobster feast is the only way to commemorate momentous occasions.

Here are some tips on how to make your Red Lobster moments more awesome with your family and friends…


First Things First

Menu: New Items | Meat and Scallop Lunchmates, Soups & Salads | Starters | Pasta & Pizza | Mains | Seafood Feast Combination | Desserts | Ocean Coolers | Alcoholic Drinks, Wines | Now Pouring

The menu is focused on fresh/frozen lobster and seafood specialties in an American dining context with limited meat options.

Located at high-end malls, Red Lobster in Manila features a red-themed American diner setting conducive to family gatherings.

RED LOBSTER Philippines
#1 Seafood Restaurant in America now in Manila

Level 1 S Maison, MOA Complex, Pasay City
Operating Hours: 10.00am to 10.00pm
Mobile: +63 (917) 432-2626
Email: [email protected]

3F Evia Lifestyle Center, Las Piñas City
Operating Hours: 10.00am to 10.00pm
Mobile: +63 (927) 969 0036
Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Red Lobster Philippines
Instagram: @redlobsterph

Read more


Ricksha Streetside Tandoor: Best of Indian Food in Kapitolyo, Pasig!

USDA Hangar Steak (200gms)

RICKSHA, a streetside tandoor cafe by Cyril and Pierre Addison, is inspired by Cyril’s mom’s recipes and the Indian food he grew up with. The restaurateur couple is known as for their role as partners at Gallery by Chele and for their fine taste in food and drinks as well.

Make sure to visit when you are in the Kapitolyo, Pasig area, and here’s what you can expect at Ricksha.


23 East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig
Mobile: +63 917 637-2113
Open Daily 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
FacebookRicksha Streetside Tandoor
Instagram: @rickshastreetsidetandoor

First Things First

Facade.  The colorful signage attracts you to this neighborhood shop next to the OG location of Poco Deli in Kapitolyo.

Ambiance. It’s like eating in an Indian eatery but with a hip teenage Indian vibe.

Tandoor. Cyril showing off his tandoor oven, which gives the unique flavor you’ll come back for.

Menu:  Expect Indian food that you would expect in the streets of India with a modern Indian interpretation.

Chaat, Pani Puri, Streetside Snacks, Dhal & Soup, Maggi Noodles, Dosa | Curry in a Hurry, Grilled Tandoor Plates, Dum Biryani, Breads, Sides | Sweets, Drink, Alcoholic Drinks, Beers, Spirits

Read more


Seascape ₱1 Challenge: Golden China vs. Asian Taste

Seascape Village Market is our go-to place for the best paluto experience in Manila because it is one of the cleanest markets and it has an awesome view of the Manila Bay sunset.

We tried Golden China vs. Asian Taste to provide tips on where and what to eat and to feature the ₱1 promotion of Seascape Village.

Seascape Blog Series:

Seascape Village Market: The Best & Cleanest Paluto Market in Manila?!
Seascape Village: Golden Fortune vs. Lola Ina’s
Seascape ₱1 Challenge: Golden China vs. Asian Taste

Read more


EL GAUCHO Manila: Argentinian Steak House Now in Poblacion!

Originally from Ho Chi Minh, El Gaucho Manila is a Southeast Asian-based Argentinian Steakhouse concept by Israeli-born German restaurateur, Dany Himi and son David Timm, with branches in Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Hong Kong, not to mention their European expansion in Slovakia and Hamburg, Germany.

I tried it years ago at their popular flagship store in Bangkok, and it’s great to have another Argentinian steakhouse option for steak lovers in Manila in time for the Christmas celebrations.

Before you go, here are some tips on what to order and how to plan your awesome experience in El Gaucho Manila.


Ground Floor Trump Tower at Century City
Kalayaan Avenue, Salamanca Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Opening hours: 11 AM until late
Mobile: +63 ‭917 323 8019
Email: [email protected]
FacebookEl Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse Philippines
Instagram: @elgauchoasia

El Gaucho Menu: Food | Drink List | Wine List | Wine by the Glass

The ambiance draws you in with its industrial high ceiling interiors with wood and metal finish and an array of hanging bulbs.

El Gaucho Menu: Food | Drink List | Wine List | Wine by the Glass

You feel at home immediately with its cozy tables and awesome location, walking distance from the Poblacion area.

Read more


Van Gogh Alive PH: Is it Worth It? (Sold-Out Tickets?)

Van Gogh Alive, the world’s most-visited multi-sensory exhibition, is now open in Manila, coming from its last exhibit in Hong Kong and before moving to Taiwan.

Thanks to the Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (BAFI), in partnership with Grande Exhibitions, for presenting Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic works in an immersive 90-minute multimedia experience on the 4th level of BGC’s newest shopping, dining and lifestyle center, One Bonifacio High Street, from October 26 until December 8, 2019.

This is one of the most inspiring shows you should not miss in Manila for creative inspiration from Van Gogh’s work and specially for the kids’ immersion in the world of art. Most of the weekend online tickets are sold out, so you may go on weekday mornings or take a chance on the on-site tickets.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to maximize your 90 minutes and enjoy the immersive experience…


Van Gogh Alive Philippines
One Bonifacio High Street, Monday to Sunday
Operating Time: 11:00 am to 09:30 pm (7 time slots – 90 mins each slot)
Official website:
Facebook: Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio High Street
Official Hashtag:
#VanGoghAlivePH, #OneBHS, #ArtandScienceBGC

If your preferred date and time is sold out online, limited tickets may still be available in the ticket booths below on a first come, first served basis:

  • Van Gogh Alive Ticket Booth, 4th floor, One Bonifacio High Street, Monday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 09:00 pm
  • The Mind Museum Ticket Booth, Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00AM to 05:00PM

Read more


Rambla Salcedo 6-Hands: Chef Josh x Chef Alfredo x Chef Ignacio

For the first time, Chef Josh Boutwood of Helm, Chef Alfredo Sangrador of Rambla and Chef Ignacio Alcala of Las Flores collaborated together to bring a 6-hand 8-course dinner featuring the flavors of Barcelona.

First Things First

The 6 hands dinner was held at the new Rambla Salcedo located on the corner of Tordesillas and Bautista Sts.

Read More: RAMBLA SALCEDO Makati: Best Spanish Tapas Bar in the Salcedo Neighborhood! 

Chef Josh made the main course and 1 dessert; Chef Alfredo did 1 starter and 1 desert; and Chef Ignacio created 2 appetizers, 1 starter and 1 main course.

Read more


TALISAY by Chef Tatung: This Modern Filipino Restaurant in Maginhawa

TALISAY, the signature restaurant of Chef Tatung Sarthou of Netflix Streetfood fame, features modern Filipino cuisine that includes recipes from his hometown in Talisay, Cebu.  This comeback restaurant is the summary of all lessons learned from past private dining experiences, restaurant failures and exposure to both the sosyal and masa crowd.

It’s a going back home to the roots of elevated classic Filipino food with Cebuano highlights and a homecoming to QC where Chef Tatung’s private dining began. Some nights, the place becomes a culinary playground for the chef’s creative Filipino experiences.

Here are some tips for your own awesome Talisay experience…

A comfortable dining oasis that beckons from its tucked-in spot along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City, Talisay offers a delectable feast of memory, flavor and experience. Each bite is an ode to nostalgia and magical moments spent sharing hearty meals with loved ones.

Head on to Talisay.

Talisay Garden Café
Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
44 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Quezon City
Telephone: +632 8293-9077
Mobile: +63 919 877-6321
Facebook: Talisay The Garden Cafe


Talisay Menu: Starters | Salad, Soup, Talisay Specials | Talisay Specials | Sides, Drinks, Desserts

The food served were Chef Tatung specials and not your usual comfort Filipino food of kare kare, adobo or sisig.


Read more


Haunted Manila Halloween: Official Festival Guide!

Buy your Festival Tickets Now! (with promo code: OAPxHMF)

Here’s the official guide for the first-ever Haunted Festival Manila! See you there!

About Haunted Manila

Haunted Manila Festival offers 6 nights of festivities simply because one night is not enough. #HMF2019 celebrates Filipino culture with music, film, and adventure with a jam-packed schedule of events that promise escalating shrieks of terror and tawa-iyak moments epic stories are made of.

From October 26 to 31, at the Filinvest City Events Ground, you can run for your life at the country’s biggest zombie run, Outbreak Manila. Experience terror and test your problem-solving skills with haunted escape rooms and a giant scavenger hunt by Breakout Philippines. Watch Classic Pinoy Horror Movies in our open-air cinema, Pelikulagim.

Hang out with your family, barkada, and officemates in our Gayuma Food Bazaar and Trick or Treat Game Stations. And top off the entire experience and enjoy a SANTELMO Halloween Music Party with your favorite  OPM bands.


Read more

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